Gaza 14 November 2023
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The Rights Forum sues Dutch state

The Rights Forum, along with Oxfam Novib, Amnesty International, and PAX, is taking the Dutch state to court for its stance on the war in Gaza. The Netherlands continues to export weapons to Israel, making it complicit in violations of the laws of war and the collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza.

Previously, these organizations urged the government to identify and condemn all violations of international humanitarian law. However, despite over 12,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza – of which more than two-thirds are women and children – and clear statements from international organizations, the Netherlands refuses to take a stand and publicly address Israel’s apparent severe violations of the laws of war. The civil society organizations have also previously condemned the horrific attacks and abductions of civilians by Hamas.

Last week, it was revealed that the Dutch government failed to halt the export of parts for F35 fighter jets. NRC reported that officials warned this might lead to “serious violations of humanitarian war law” in Gaza. The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv also issued similar explicit warnings. In violation of its own arms export policy and international treaties to which the Netherlands is a party, the government has nonetheless decided to continue supplying these components.

The Netherlands has been complicit in violations of international law for years, and this complicity must now end. -

Gerard Jonkman, director of The Rights Forum

The Netherlands has a very specific framework for assessing arms exports. When military goods may contribute to human rights violations or breaches of international humanitarian law, such export is strictly forbidden. It's incomprehensible that the government, despite clear warnings, has knowingly deviated from this. -

Martje van Nes, director of PAX

As aid organizations, we have asked the government in various ways to support our workers and end the violence in Gaza. They want to provide aid to the civilian population, but the bombardment makes this impossible. The fact that these bombs are being dropped with Dutch military support is almost inconceivable. This must stop. It's an unprecedented step for us to go to court, but if it's necessary, then it's unfortunately the only option. -

Michiel Servaes, director of Oxfam Novib

The Netherlands hosts both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court and likes to present itself as a champion of international law. However, our government is currently losing all credibility. Evident violations, such as the blockade of food, water, and fuel, forced displacement of the population, and bombing of schools, hospitals, and journalists, are not being acknowledged. By supplying weapon components, the Netherlands risks becoming complicit in violations of international humanitarian law. -

Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty International

Summary Trial and Crowdfunding

The civil society organizations are preparing a summary trial against the Dutch State, demanding that the government act in accordance with its own policy frameworks, constitutional obligations, and relevant international agreements such as the EU Common Position and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). They are being supported by lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Thomas van der Sommen.

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched for the trial, and other organizations are invited to support the case.

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